The Baylor Lady Bears have accepted an invitation to visit President Donald J. Trump at the White House to celebrate their 2019 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament title.
Before the invitation was extended, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey told reporters she would love to visit the White House given that she has enjoyed the tradition following championships in prior years. In 2005, the Lady Bears visited the White House under George W. Bush. In 2012, they visited during Barack Obama’s presidency.
Earlier this month, Mulkey told the Associated Press that White House visits to celebrate championships should not be partisan issues, but cherished and upheld traditions:
I’ve been every time for every president. It’s not a political issue for me. It’s an honor to go to the White House. I want everyone to say they went to the White House. Not many people can say that. I hope [the] Virginia men go and I can meet [coach] Tony Bennett.
But included on the list of people who cannot say they visited the White House are:
- Dawn Staley and the 2017 NCAAW champion South Carolina Gamecocks;
- Cheryl Reeve and the 2017 WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx;
- Muffet McGraw and the 2018 NCAAW champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish;
- Dan Hughes and the 2018 WNBA champion Seattle Storm; and
- Dawn Staley and the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, which won the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup.
But it makes sense that Trump would gravitate to Mulkey — and Mulkey to Trump — due to her conformity to, and advocacy of, patriarchy-prescribed mores about how women should look, act and be. Conformity of this stripe does not allow for defiance and inquisition of the status quo, even though the current president has displayed strong misogynist, sexist and predatory tendencies toward women.
If Notre Dame had managed a win, would outspoken Muffet McGraw and the Fighting Irish be invited to the White House?
Spectators are free to sit in wonderment.
Although we may never know the reason the other teams were shunned, we do know that Trump handles critics with vindictiveness and, thus, did not invite LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 or Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018 to celebrate their NBA Finals wins because both NBA superstars had openly criticized Trump over his policies.
No matter the reason, Mulkey will enjoy an honor that was denied her women’s basketball colleagues, and that is not okay. Moreover, spectators should question why Mulkey is eager to receive something that others also earned but were denied — why she is keen to remain blissfully oblivious to the mistreatment of other women in her sport.
While Mulkey looks forward to the visit with Trump, it will be interesting to see if the players and their parents feel the same way. After all, this is a man who was caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women. So, if the players, for any reason, feel uncomfortable with the trip to Washington, D.C., they should borrow a page from the North Carolina Tar Heels’ women’s basketball players and speak up.
They are, after all, entitled by their inalienable human rights to protect their well-being.